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14 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Pharmaceutical boss causes outrage by saying US has “right“ to receive firm’s coronavirus vaccine first

By Samuel Horti

The boss of a major French pharmaceutical firm has caused uproar by saying the US has the “right” to the largest pre-orders of the company’s coronavirus vaccine because the country is part-funding the research.

Paul Hudson, chief executive of Sanofi, told Bloomberg News: “The US government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk. That’s how it will be because they’ve invested to try and protect their population, to restart their economy. I’ve been campaigning in Europe to say the US will get vaccines first.”

Sanofi, which has partnered with British firm GlaxoSmithKline, has not yet begun trials of its vaccine, which will be ready in late 2021 at the earliest.

France’s higher education minister Frédérique Vidal said Sanofi’s plan was “incomprehensible and disgraceful”, and that a vaccine must be a “public good for the world”. Other critics pointed out that the Paris-based company has received tens of millions of euros in research credits from the French government in recent years.

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Olivier Bogillot, the head of Sanofi’s French division, distanced himself from Hudson’s comments today, saying the vaccine would reach the US, France and Europe “at the same time”.

Last month, the United Nations set up a task force to ensure any vaccine was evenly distributed around the world.